Monthly Archives: January 2018

10 Cryptids You Should Know About

Cryptids have always fascinated conspiracists not only because of their elusiveness but because they appear so often in lore from almost every culture there is. Cryptids are by definition any creature that has been reported to exist but there is not enough proof for its existence to be scientifically accepted. Some are ridiculously unlikely, but others have some reasonably believable evidence. These are ten that the casual conspiracist might not know about, but definitely should, in no particular order.

I’m skipping Bigfoot because I already wrote about him. Here’s everything you need to know about him, an interesting theory on his ancestry, and all his relatives.


The Loch Ness Monster (and its relatives). You’ve probably heard of this one: a large, mysterious water monster that resides in Loch Ness of the Scottish Highlands and other large lakes. Nessie and Champ are its two most common aliases, but it’s been called many things. The species is described as either a long, thick snake with a large head, or a fat soft-shelled turtle with a long neck and a protrusion on its back. Its most likely explanation is an overgrown eel, but some people claim that Nessie is not one creature but a breed of ancient dinosaurs that survived the prehistoric apocalypse that killed the other dinosaurs by waiting it out in the depths.


Slenderman. This friendly guy is actually invisible to everyone except young children, unless he is on camera. Most people agree that there is only one Slenderman, but he appeared in cave paintings and lore in several countries and continents (Brazil, Egypt, Germany, etc). He is often seen in suburbs and forests, following children. Little is know about his behavior because of his invisibility, but legend says he grows tentacles from his back if needed and communicates with his human servants telepathically. His motives are unknown, but what we do know is that he kills any children he catches. He has also been blamed for several murders, most of them kids killing other kids in his name.


Mothman. This is not a Marvel superhero, although it would make a good one, but a mysterious humanoid cryptid residing in West Virginia. Unlike many other cryptids, this one saves people rather than murdering them. There are several accounts of a large, owl-like creature scaring people away from an area before a disaster. The most famous one was the incident of I-35W bridge collapse, where Mothman appeared months before and reportedly attempted to scare people off the bridge more and more often until it collapsed. However, there are even reports of him haunting the sites of Fukushima, Chernobyl, and 9/11 weeks before the disasters.

Chupacabra feeding on a goat

Chupacabra, also known as Goatsucker. These critters are known to feed on livestock by sucking their blood. For goats and sheep, they tend to inflict snake-like punctures on the neck or chest, through which they suck out the blood, but they are known to resort to mutilating larger prey and drain them limb by limb. The scientifically accepted explanation is a coyote-dog hybrid with mange, but some eyewitnesses describe a reptilian creature with green scales quills protruding from its back.


Maryland Goatman. A legend of an ax-wielding seven-foot tall half-man half-goat hybrid that runs around the countryside scaring people out of their minds might sound far-fetched, but some Maryland residents are convinced of its reality. The backstory is that an agricultural experiment concerning goats went wrong, and the result was this hybrid, which grabbed an ax ran for the woods. It is most often seen on the side of the road waiting for teens, who it seems to enjoy scaring particularly. However, no murders are associated with it yet.


Hellhounds. There are many legends of sinister black dogs as omens of death from just about everywhere in the world. Arguably the most well known is Black Shuck from Britain, but there are other famous devil dogs in folk culture as well, from the Vikings to Native Americans. Some are considered omens of death, and others as servants of the devil. Hellhounds are difficult to search for since they can be confused for any big black dog, and because they are supernatural entities so they can appear and disappear to individual people, rendering them impossible to find if they don’t want to be found.


Dover Demon. The general public appears to be undecided as to whether this freak is an alien or something else. It is known to take the form of a small humanoid with a massive misshapen head. It doesn’t seem to have any violent intentions, but it’s still a disturbing creature. The likeliest explanation people have come up with so far is that it’s an orphaned baby moose, and even that is contradicted by the fact that someone mistook it for a deformed child and chased it until he realized it was an alien, which indicates that it is bipedal.


Spring-Heeled Jack. Sightings of this guy date back to Victorian England and are almost certainly related to Jack the Ripper. The only clear difference between the cryptid and the killer is that Spring-Heeled Jack is a supernatural being, thought by some to be a devil. Jack is a shapeshifting humanoid often seen flying through the sky, characterized by his hat, cloak, and long, claw-like nails. He is known to laugh and shriek loudly before jumping off buildings and walls and flying away. He has been blamed for several real crimes, including murder, but much like Jack the Ripper, he was never identified as a single person.


Mongolian Death Worm. Olgoi-Khorkhoi, the official name of the creature, loosely translates to “large intestinal worm,” but contrary to the name they live in the Gobi Desert, not people’s guts. These creatures measure up to seven feet long and a foot wide. They have been observed to kill a human by touch alone, but its main weapon is corrosive projectile saliva. The sheer number of sightings over the past few thousand years and hundreds of attributed deaths alone give credibility to the myth, although no fossil evidence has been found.

Iceland Travel Guide

Iceland is full of many different types of scenery. Despite being a relatively small country, a one or two-week visit will hardly scratch the surface of the scenery to be found.

If you’re looking for waterfalls, take a look at Gulfoss, Dettifoss, Seljalandsfoss, Goðafoss, Hraunfossar, and Glymur. Check out Eyjafjallajökull, Keilir, Hekla, Landmannalaugar, Hvannadalshnúkur, and Kirkjufell if climbing mountains are closer to your style. If geothermal lakes interest you more, check out the Blue Lagoon, Lake Myvatn, Viti, Grjótagjá, and lakes in Landmannalaugar.


The Golden Circle route (which can be driven around, but tours are offered too) is one of the most popular areas to visit. It begins in Reykjavik and takes as long as you want it to, from six hours to a full week. It includes Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall, and the Geyser Geothermal Area, but detours can be made to include the crater lake Kerid, Langjokkul Glacier, the Thjorsardalur Valley, and the historic town of Skalholt.

There are reasons to visit other than the scenery, too. Aurora Borealis, or the Northern lights, is visible most clear nights between September and April. In the summer, milder temperatures of up to 70° F (22° C) draw in visitors wanting to explore the island without heavy winter gear. Icelandic seafood is known to be excellent any time of year (although some traditional Icelandic food is not usually appreciated by tourists).

Reykjavik is a popular place to stay due to the abundance of tours that start there, but there are hotels available in central Iceland, which provide more proximity to day-trip destinations. Check out Sandhotel and Fosshotel in Reykjavik, Hotel Ranga and Hotel Vík in the South, Ion Adventure Hotel (pictured) in the Southwest, and Fosshotel Myvatn in the Northeast. Exotic and unusual hotels are also available in Iceland, from log cabins and igloos to the famous Bubble Hotel that’s actually more comfortable than it looks.

There are a lot of great places to go–too many to choose from if you have limited time there. These are the 12 best must-see places to visit in Iceland:


#12: Gullfoss Waterfall. Gullfoss is considered one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland, and its an essential part of any trip to the South of the island. It’s a part of the Golden Circle route, so a lot of tours include it.


#11: Kerlingarfjöll. This mountain range is one of Iceland’s most interesting, despite being basically the middle of nowhere. Huts are available to rent, but camping is more common.


#10: Reynisfjara Beach. Found near the village of Vik in southern Iceland, Reyisfjara is known around the world for its black sand and unusual rock formations. It’s only a few hour’s drive from Reykjavik.


#9: Asbyrgi Canyon. Asbyrgi translates to “shelter of the gods” in Icelandic, and the place has an interesting legend behind it. In addition to a great view, there are many hiking trails around the area.


#8: Thingvellir National Park. In this park, the most famous part of the Golden Circle tour, you will find the Oxara waterfall and the Nikulasargja Gorge (aka Money Gorge), along with other photo-worthy destinations.


#7: Lake Myvatn. While its pretty far North from Reykjavik, it’s worth the drive if you have the time. There are plenty of geothermal lakes that offer a cheaper and less crowded alternative to the famous Blue Lagoon, as well as geothermal caves and underground lakes to swim through.


#6: Landmannalaugar. The most scenic parts difficult to access and there are not many services to be found, so you need to pack your own food, gasoline, and camping equipment. But once you’re there the lava fields, colorful hills, and striking peaks make up for the inconvenience.


#5: Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. Located in the Northwest tip of Iceland, the Hornstrandir Reserve is an extensive nature reserve that is open for hiking and camping, though a guide is recommended.


#4: Skaftafell National Park. There are many things to do in Skaftafell. The Crystal Cave is a popular ice cave worth seeing if being under several dozen feet of shimmering blue ice doesn’t give you claustrophobia. Tours of the glacier are also available, with the right equipment. The Svartifoss with its oddly regular columns and the Hundafoss are the two most famous waterfalls in the area.


#3: Blue Lagoon. The geothermal spa Blue Lagoon is one of the most iconic experiences in Iceland. It’s easily accessible and close to Reykjavik, which makes it a popular tourist destination. However, be warned: it’s a little expensive.


2#: Kirkjufell Mountain. This is basically the Matterhorn of Iceland. Along with Kirkjufellfoss, the waterfall, it is one of the most visited natural locations in Iceland. It’s pretty remote, but the good news is it’s only a two-hour drive from Reykjavik, so it’s a good day-trip from there.


#1: Reykjavik: The picturesque town of Reykjavik is Iceland’s biggest city, as well as its capital. It’s the most popular place to stay, and the start of the Golden Circle route. It’s a must-see not because of the scenery, but the convenience and proximity.

Additional resources for planning a trip: Iceland Travel, Guide to IcelandIceland’s and’s hotel lists.

5 Issues With The Last Jedi’s Plot and How They Could Have Been Fixed

The Last Jedi took some serious risks with its style, and it still managed to deliver. It was a decent movie overall, but it did disappoint many fans who wanted something more like The Force Awakens. Odd pacing, multiple climaxes, pointless scenes, the dismissal of several teased plot points from TFA, and an uncharacteristically cheap sense of humor were major problems that could have been solved easily, but the plot also had some big issues that could easily have been fixed.

Before we begin, SPOILERS — but I doubt there is anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. And if you haven’t read it already, you might want to check out my review of The Last Jedi before you read this.


Problem #1: For the first time in any Star Wars movie, there was no lightsaber battle. You can’t even count the skirmish with Snoke’s guards as one since the guards had different, though still awesome, weapons. Snoke died without ever igniting his blade, if he even had one. Not even Luke drew his green one when Rey pulled hers (or rather, Luke’s other one) on him. Luke and Kylo did clash a little on Crait, but you can’t count that because it was only a few strikes and Luke wasn’t even there.

Solution: The easiest way to fix this does not involve Rey or Snoke (Snoke’s death was too good to change it). Luke’s fight with Kylo before the new Jedi Order was slaughtered could be shown, which would solve this problem as well as explain why Luke couldn’t defeat him. That would allow the movie to keep its final battle the same, but still have a traditional lightsaber fight.


Problem #3: Captain Phasma, the new Boba Fett, died in the same way as Boba and Jango: an easy, cheap skirmish that really should have gone down the other way. Her entrance with a squad of Stormtroopers marching through the flames was very promising, but her death was a massive disappointment for fans, who were hoping she would be better than the other Boba equivalents in their respective trilogies.

Solution: She could survive and come back for episode IX. But the better solution would be to let her kill Finn and have Rose sacrifice herself the way Finn tried to. Although it kills a lot of characters, the bad guys didn’t get many new recruits for The Last Jedi so it would level things out. In addition, it would give the entire movie more weight, which is never a bad thing.

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Problem #2: Ackbar’s death was waved off as if we weren’t even supposed to know who he was. Not only did it happen off-screen, it was done inconsequentially and without much thought. Ackbar has been around since the Empire, making him almost as experienced as Leia. He didn’t deserve to be dumped out of the script so easily.

Solution: He should have been the one to smash Snoke’s star destroyer with a hyperspace jump. It would have provided the weight for his death that he deserved, and it would have avoided an emotional death for a character we barely know and replaced it with a well-deserved, timely death for a character who we know well enough to miss.



Problem #4: Holdo existed. Withholding a plan that was not need-to-know was not only pointless but jeopardized the trust of the crew and caused the mutiny, which Poe was right to start: she wasn’t transparent with her own crew, so she had something to hide. While a corrupt Resistance commander is not a bad thing to include in the movie, the fact that Leia trusted someone like that more than anyone else in the crew is strange, to say the least, and not fitting for her character at all.

Solution: This is a tough one, as her arrogance and stupidity (or was it treason?) were crucial to the plot, which makes her character basically irreplaceable. Ackbar couldn’t take her place entirely either, as it would be completely out of character for him. However, instead of trying to “redeem” herself by sacrificing herself for the rest of the Resistance, Ackbar could have been the one to save the day instead, which would solve two problems in one.

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Problem #5: One of the most iconic lines in any Star Wars movie, second to “may the Force be with you,” was never actually heard in The Last Jedi. In fact, it is the only movie so far where not a single character utters the famous one-liner, “I have a bad feeling about this.” This would be an unusual lack of attention to detail on the part of the filmmakers…

Solution: Watch the movie again! While it may not be spoken in English (or, I should say, Basic), it’s in there. BB-8 is the one to say it this time, as evident by Poe’s reaction to it in the very first scene.

So, do you agree with these, or did you like it the way it was? Do you have any better solutions? Let me know!

8 Types of Bigfoots

Everyone knows about the legend of Sasquatch: a tall, hairy ape-man that roams the forests of the Pacific Northwest. But what most people are familiar with is only one type of Bigfoot. Whether they are a separate species, subspecies, or just a different variety, there are others. Almost every culture in the world has one legend or another of an elusive ape-man that can never be captured but is sighted occasionally, deep into the wilderness. These are the eight most common.


Sasquatch, a name that is almost interchangeable with Bigfoot, is actually a more specific term for the North American variety. Sasquatches have been around for as long as humans, according to Native American legends, and are thought to have crossed the Bering Strait along with people and other animals. They were generally considered to be a spirit of the forest, but they were also reportedly spotted on rare occasions as a physical creature.


Wendigo is a Native American Legend about a spirit that manifests itself in the form of large animals, often as a Sasquatch. It is said to have an insatiable hunger to devour mankind, and true to the legend, whenever it is reported to show up, unexpected and violent deaths follow. Some say it is a vengeful spirit, while others claim to have encountered an interdimensional being, but either way, it is an example of a Bigfoot relative that is from out of this world.


Skunk apes are almost exactly the same as Sasquatch, with a couple exceptions. First, they live in the bogs and swamps of Florida rather than forests and mountains. Second, they stink. The stench has been associated with methane-filled bogs, but some say it comes straight from the beasts themselves.


The Grassman is another name for  Sasquatch, but more specific. Grassmen reside in only in Ohio and some neighboring states. They feed mostly on livestock, but also hunt in the Appalachians and eat plants from the forests.


Yeti, or Abominable Snowmen, reside in the Himalayas in Nepal and Tibet. Some say Yeti are the original variety of Bigfoot, and the others diffused and evolved from them. They are characterized by white or yellowish-white fur and a stockier build than Sasquatches. They are often confused with the Arctic variety of Sasquatch, which has a similar color but is found in the far north of North America.


Yeren are another mysterious ape-like creature rumored to inhabit rural southern China. They are even more closely related to the North American Sasquatch than their neighbors, the Yeti. They are known to be malevolent to humans and even to eat them, and there are legends that Chinese travelers in the mountains wore tubes on their arms so they can slide out of them and escape when the Yeren captures them. It is more likely that these “tubes” were intended to prevent frostbite.


The Mapinguari (aka Maricoxi) is another possible bigfoot relative living deep in South American rainforests. Some say it’s humanoid, while others describe a partially bipedal bear-like creature with sloth claws. Whether it is a Bigfoot relative or a remnant of an ancient species of megafauna thought to be extinct is heavily debated. The scientifically accepted explanation is that it might be a giant ground sloth, which was previously believed to be extinct.


Yowie, Squatch’s violent Aussie cousin, has been reported to exist in the bush well before Australia was discovered. The Aboriginals described ape-like beast found in the forests near the coast that had lived there for as long as they had. Yowies are thought to be considerably more violent toward humans than Squatches, although they have not been reported to have eaten anyone yet.

There are others, too. The Almas of Kazakhstan, the Orang Pendek of Sumatra, the Chuchunaa of Siberia, and the Ebu Gogo of Indonesia are all considered subspecies of Bigfoot, but are too elusive to find good evidence or pictures. Still, it can hardly be a coincidence that every part of the world has some sort of legend of a Bigfoot. In fact, that may be the single best evidence of their existence.